Late last week, while dining in an Italian restaurant on the Upper Westside of Manhattan, my lady friend began reading a posting she found on Facebook. The theme of this posting was that a survey found that Russians and Romanians overwhelmingly expressed their desire to return to the “good old days,” when communism prevailed in their respective countries.
The waiter, a man we have known for a long period of time, surprisingly joined our conversation claiming that he is Romanian and the survey was accurate and truly reflects the feelings of the people of his country.
He then went on to describe what it was like to live under a communist system . . . there was no homelessness, everyone was guaranteed a place to live, there was no unemployment . . . everyone had to work. If the police found that you had no job, they would help you by taking you to a social service agency that would offer training and a guaranteed job; all citizens were entitled to a free public education that included college and everyone was entitled to free healthcare. While there weren’t very wealthy people, there was also no poverty.
Our waiter went on to describe that now that they have introduced capitalism, the economy of Romania is stagnant and how young people were leaving the country because they can’t find jobs. As expected, the elite class is doing well.
I offer this short story in order to illustrate that, while capitalism offers false hope (the American Dream) in order to maintain approval and support of the working class, those that lived under communism truly understand what they have lost in their transition to capitalism. While capitalism offers us the hypothetical” freedom” to pursue our dreams of wealth and membership in the elite class, it ignores the plight of tens of millions of people who struggle daily to survive.
Capitalists often juxtapose their economic system with freedom as a rationale to oppose socialism or communism which are not surprisingly portrayed as oppressive systems and promote the virtues of capitalism and a “free society.” Exactly what kinds of freedom does the U.S. offer that the Soviet Union or Cuba withheld from their people?
The U.S. has offered us the freedom to go bankrupt if a member of our family becomes seriously ill; the Soviet Union and Cuba offered free healthcare to all; the U.S. has offered us the freedom to attend college, an experience that likely will keep us in debt for most of the rest of our lives; the Soviet Union and Cuba offered free public education to all; the U.S. has given us the right to be homeless and/or unemployed; the Soviet Union and Cuba did not have that problem. The U.S. has given us the freedom to watch our loved ones suffer from illnesses because we cannot afford the cost of the medication that would relieve the suffering.
The U.S. has offered us the freedom to have our sons and daughters enlist in the military where they will have the opportunity to participate in endless wars . . . in case you aren’t aware, these wars have been extremely profitable for corporate America. Also note, that these wars are not to defend “our” country against some foreign threat. What country, in their right mind, would plan to attack the U.S. and wind up being erased from the planet?
To better understand why we go to war, follow the money. Example, Syria and their president Bashar al Assad. The U.S. insists on removing Assad from office. Why? Does he pose a threat to the U.S.? In a manner of speaking, yes. He is unlikely to approve having oil and gas pipelines run through his country bringing gas and oil from the Middle East (Saudi Arabia and Qatar) to Europe.
Assad also has a relationship with Russia and being able to put a pro-Western government in Syria would further neutralize Russia’s and Iran’s influence in that region.
Why is Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, being targeted by the U.S. and their lackeys from NATO? Capitalism, in order to succeed constantly requires new resources and markets. To dominate the world’s resources and markets, the U.S. must neutralize its competitors . . . namely Russia and China. Therefore, the need to demonize both countries and create situations that may provoke conflict.
While the Russians are in Syria legally at the request of the Syrian government, the U.S. is not. Yet, the U.S., according to Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook, has stated the following: “Our warning to the Syrians is the same that we’ve had for some time, that we’re going to defend our forces and they would be advised not to fly in areas where our forces have been operating.”
Asked if this means the US will shoot down Syrian and Russian jets trying to destroy Al Qaeda/Al Nusra and ISIS forces in Syria, Cook said . . .”If need be we will send aircraft again to defend our forces.”
What Cook is saying is that the U.S. , although he denies that a “no-fly” zone has been established, has decided where Syrians can fly their planes within the borders of their own country. Cook and the Pentagon have decided that this is not a no-fly zone, it is an “exclusion zone” or “prohibited airspace.” Another example of “American Exceptionalism” and doublespeak.
Does this mean that the U.S. and NATO are trying to provoke a military confrontation with Russia? Let’s look further.
When the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union withdrew from Germany, part of the agreement, under the leadership of Bill Clinton, was that NATO would not expand any farther eastward. Well, my friends, the U.S. lied. NATO now includes Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Albania, and Croatia. There are other countries that are now members of NATO, but I think I’ve made my point.
Not only has NATO expanded to the borders of Russia but it has brought in thousands of troops as well as military hardware and has conducted military exercises alongside Russia’s borders. Do you think it’s being provocative?
In 2010, Viktor Yanukovych, was elected to the Ukrainian presidency. NATO attempted to seduce Yanukovych away from his close relationship to Russia. But Yanukovych would not go along with the program. Lo and behold, a coup is organized and his government is overthrown, replaced by a fascist government dominated by neo-Nazis. Both the coup and the new fascist government have received support from the U.S.
What is the U.S. interest in the Ukraine? The US’s interest in the Ukraine, in part, is to keep Russia out of the Ukraine. The US maintains a containment strategy on Russia, meaning that it tries to keep Russia from expanding and becoming a viable military and economic adversary. It does not want Russia to expand into its former USSR territories. This, despite the fact that Russia has shown no desire to expand.
But, once again, we cannot ignore the economic factors that exist: The US’s allies are interested in Ukraine because the gas pipeline goes through it and Russia can turn off the gas to Europe and increase prices. The US along with its allies are trying many ways to try to wrestle monopolistic control away from Russia over Europe’s gas prices and Russia is trying to further monopolize fuel internationally through the pipeline.
Would the U.S. involvement in the overthrow of the government friendly to Russia and one that borders Russia and the installation of a government dominated by neo-Nazis be considered another provocation?
The problem with the U.S. and NATO actions is that it could result in a serious Russian response and possibly WW3, which I am convinced the U.S. wants and feels it can win. Let us keep in mind that WW3 will be a war that includes the use of nuclear weapons and the possible end of life on this planet.
What does all this have to do with capitalism? It is the nature of capitalism to search the globe for investment opportunities and profits. Under corporate guidance, the U.S. has implemented a program of imperialism which has sought to gain control of resources and markets in order to facilitate the capitalists’ ability to exploit these opportunities.
As George H.W. Bush stated, “This is a new world order.” The U.S. is not seeking to find the means of benefitting humanity but rather to line the pockets of the elite class. And that, my friends, is why we are constantly at war. It matters not who sits in the White House, male, female, black or white, Democrat or Republican, the agenda is set.
The threat to life on this planet is not only connected to military action. For years scientists have warned us that the climate is changing and it’s getting hotter. We are now seeing clear evidence that verifies their concerns. Yet, there has been little movement to change how we conduct our lives, rid our dependence on fossil fuels and implement renewable energy research and projects.
Why? Because the elite class must continue to make their profits and we must continue with business as usual. Everyone appears to be fiddling while the world burns. Where are the progressives? Why aren’t their mass rallies and demonstrations to challenge those policies that will result in the extermination of human kind?
The latest environmental news has provided us with this information: The growing heat and rising global temperatures has resulted in the melting of the Arctic ice caps. Not only has this resulted in rising sea levels which threaten to bury inhabited areas under the sea, but scientists are now reporting that the melting ice has allowed for the release into our atmosphere of methane gas which until now had been buried beneath the ice. Methane gas is known to make it hard to breathe.
What has been capitalism’s response to this emergency situation . . . more deep sea drilling for oil, more pipelines to transport oil from country to country and state to state, more international treaties (TPP) which would allow corporations to legally challenge local ordinances and laws that restrict a company’s ability to do business despite the fact that its operation may present a threat to the local water supply or air quality.
Capitalism, and the constant search for individual and private profit, will eventually lead to the extinction of life on this planet. It is humanity’s greatest threat. It is the elephant in the room we refuse to pay attention to. When will we, the people, react?
Dave Alpert has masters degrees in social work, educational administration, and psychology. He spent his career working with troubled inner city adolescents.